Hurricane History

by Victoria Duerstock

In the aftermath of Harvey, I have thought long and hard about my experiences once again living on the Gulf Coast of Florida for many years.  We saw many hurricanes over the years, some with very little damage and others with devastating effects for many months.  I hurt for the people of Texas, knowing that very soon, the rest of us will move on with our lives, while they start the very long and difficult process of rebuilding their lives, their homes, and their mental health.

Anytime a hurricane develops, I feel a familiar pit in my stomach.  Although it’s been several years now since the landfall of a major hurricane on the mainland United States, the monstrous effects of Hurricane Ivan on me, and my family personally, remain, likely forever.  As a wife and mom, the effect of the hurricane was not just in the packing and evacuating but also in the separation and difficult decisions that had to be made not just before the storm but after.

While I, my mom, and the kids evacuated from Hurricane Ivan just prior to its landfall on the panhandle of Florida on September 16, 2004, my husband remained behind to help with rescue and recovery efforts.  My husband stayed because he was a volunteer fireman in our local fire department and felt his presence was vital to help our community with recover. He and the crew evacuated just far enough inland to still be accessible once the hurricane had passed through as they were ordered to stay off the roads until the all clear.

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Life isn’t all cupcakes and barbies

by Angela Jamison – featured columnist

Life is hard.

After a particularly difficult day not getting everything exactly how she wanted it, my daughter, age six, went into a meltdown. The stars were not aligning properly and she just knew that if she had new barbies life would be perfect. My eight year old son, clearly wise beyond his years, simply told her, “Well, life isn’t all cupcakes and barbies.”

Life isn’t all cupcakes and barbies.

Hilarious, yet pertinent and insightful commentary. It’s true – life isn’t all cupcakes and barbies. Sometimes we feel entitled to “cupcakes and barbies” because we’ve accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, but that’s not what is promised to us. Eternal salvation is promised. Earthly ease is not.

In fact, life is sometimes down right crumby.

As Christians, we have the tendency to assume our place in the family of believers as one of Christ’s children means the absence of trials, tribulations or difficulties. That’s simply not the case. Satan is hard at work here on Earth and he will continue to rear his ugly head.

Being a part of Christ’s family does not mean life will be easy, but it does mean that we will never have to travel alone. The burden of pain, heartache, or trial will be shared and there will be an unyielding hope that resonates within us.

Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

God is not wishy-washy, he’s commanding. He commands us to be strong and courageous, not afraid or discouraged.  He commands these things because He, the Lord your God, will be with you wherever you go. Not once does he imply that we won’t face trials that frighten us or defeats that discourage us, but rather commands our behavior and attitude for when we do.

God prepares us with his word and his promise is steadfast. Even on the hard days, we are not alone.

Life may not be all cupcakes and barbies, but it is faith, hope and love.

Where to turn when you’re overwhelmed!

It doesn’t take long to feel overwhelmed in our daily lives.  Moms especially, while the masters of juggling many things, often find ourselves past our breaking point and feeling burnt out.  I’m not sure about you, but it tends to sneak up on me when I least expect it.  I seem to be able to manage many moving parts in general but one unexpected event, or added responsibility can cause me to teeter off.


What can we do when feel that the walls are collapsing in around us?  Running away is not the answer, although in many ways it feels like a viable option. Instead we have to turn to the Source of our strength and lean in to His power when we find ourselves at the end of our ropes.


Whether we are feeling financial or emotional pressure, marriage strain or any other myriad of other things, one constant remains.  

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change 

James 1:17

Catch the rest over at w2ministries.org where I write each Friday some encouragement for wives and moms!

www.encouragingwomentoday.com

Exulting in the Promises!

Long and difficult describe many days of motherhood. Still other days filled with happiness and laughter spill out as precious memories in the landscape of time.  The challenge for us lies in the knowledge that we never know which day it will be, on any given morning as our feet hit the floor and we start the day. In each of these days, we can rest in the promises of God’s word. The good and the bad in light of God’s truth can encourage our hearts when we hurt, and keep us grounded when the days are easy.

Come join me at w2wministries for the rest of the post – just click here!

You are Beautiful!

I am so incredibly excited to introduce you to my friend Angela Jamison.

She is guest posting for us today at Encouraging Women and I want you to get to know her and her really big heart better. At the end of her post, you’ll see her bio and info and you’ll be able to catch her here as a regular contributor as well as on her own blog – https://angelajamison.wordpress.com/

I scroll Facebook and am inundated with pictures. Pictures of people who are traditionally thin with radiant complexions and perfectly styled hair. I look in the mirror and wonder where I’m going wrong. I’m not thin. My complexion fluctuates more than the weather here in Kentucky and my hair is one of two styles – loose and limp or messy bun.

 Satan capitalizes on social media and uses it to instill doubt and destroy self-worth. He nurtures comparisons and watches with delight as we sink into self-destruction. Satan doesn’t want you to know that you are beautiful.

But guess what? You are!

I don’t need to be thin with a perfect complexion and styled hair to proudly claim the title of beautiful. And neither do you. Our beauty does not lie in the number on the scale, the glow of our face or the shine of our hair. Our beauty lies in the hands of the One who created us.

 Read that again … Your beauty lies in the hands of the one who created you. You are beautiful, just as you are, because you were purposefully created by the most high God.

 In His word, God reminds us repeatedly, that we are beautiful. We are created in His perfect image and our worth does not lie in our outward appearance, but rather in the condition of our spirit.

 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV)

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

 As our seasons change, we often look to the past or the future for confirmation of what we desire. We want our pre-baby body back or we want to lose ten pounds before that summer wedding. Each season is unique and allows for our unique beauty. You were beautiful then, you will be beautiful in the future, but most importantly, you are beautiful now!

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL NOW.

Embrace the season you’re in! Instead of turning to Facebook for validation, turn the pages of THE book and be confirmed in your perfect, beautiful design.

Song of Songs 4:7 (NIV)

You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.

headshotAngela Jamison is a mother of four and works with young children as the Director of a Christian Preschool. She derives joy from children and is passionate about connecting with mothers to encourage and reiterate God’s design for the toughest job on Earth. 

 After struggling with infertility, Angela and her husband entered the world of foster care and began the journey to create their family on God’s terms

When she is not entertaining children, or buying LulaRoe, Angela loves to read, write and explore the path being laid before her by the most perfect parent, our Heavenly Father.

You Didn’t Plant That?

Life lessons abound in a variety of places.  I’ve spent some time over the last couple years looking at trends and writing about life lessons. Many of our experiences in this life lead to lessons learned and practical applications for the future. What seems to be a simple day, game, or training becomes an opportunity to learn something deeper that helps us to grow as individuals.
I recently had such an experience as it relates to my home garden.  Each year I tend to plant a little something in the spring, usually a combination of flowers, vegetables and greenery.  Some years I plant more than others, and sometimes the garden is planted directly in the ground and sometimes in pots on the deck.  I’ve decided I prefer using pots on the deck…so much easier to control weeds really.

This year was different though.  I had a very busy spring and as much as I enjoy planting and playing in the dirt, I ended up with no time to plant.  So strangely after returning from a recent conference, I went outside to discover some things growing in my pots.

 

Read the rest of the post one at my weekly spot with w2wministries.org – just click here to go directly to the post.

Raising Them to Leave

When they are small it’s hard to imagine our children growing up and leaving us one day in the future.  They are tiny and need us virtually every waking moment, and sometimes they wake us up too.

I’ll never forget, or recover from, the middle of the night heart attacks when one of my children, a very light walker could make it all the way in our room and be leaning over my face to whisper my name.  There is nothing quite like the heart failure of being woken up like that.  Or the time another of my children decided to sleep walk right out of a hotel room in the middle of the night.  #truestory  Crazy memories of trying to operate in a sleep deprived fog and just put one foot in front of the other only get funny after some time has passed.  Add teething, stomach bugs, and wet beds to the mix and really once you have a child you shouldn’t plan on a full night’s sleep until they are at least 10, maybe 20.

Of course I am exaggerating, sort of, and that’s why it’s hard to imagine that one day these challenging days will end.  One day, inevitably, they grow up and they launch out into the world to find and become the adults they were created to be.  While we are busy in those daily tasks of just keeping them alive, or keeping a sharpie marker out of their hands, it’s easy to forget we are raising future adults.  We want them to have certain character qualities as adults, but how many times do we think about the need to teach them responsibility when we are desperate to get the laundry from the washer to the dryer after one cycle instead of restarting it for the third time.

I’ve been in your shoes, and some days still find myself there – days that seem entirely too long and too busy.  If I’m not careful, a week goes by or a month and I wonder what have I done to help build character in my children.

Interested in reading the rest of this post?  Keep reading over on the w2wministries.org site – just click here!

Loving our Children Well

One of my favorite books that has been incredibly encouraging to me as a wife and mom is Boundaries.  Written by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend way back in 1992, it has been revised and become part of a series with other books added through the years.  This series replete with Biblical principles has impacted my parenting, and when my children started to approach their teen years, I eagerly picked up another Boundaries book Boundaries for Teens.  There is very practical and applicable information that has helped me to navigate proper boundaries and still show love to my family.  As an only child dealing with conflict is definitely one of my weaknesses.  Because of this, I have a tendency to avoid conflict at all costs.  This is perilous as a mother! This series assisted me in moving through all the new relationships and the changes in seasons as we went from toddler years and adolescence.

Check out the rest of the post over at w2wministries.org!

Praying you’ll have a great weekend!

Mother’s Day Rest

I recently had the opportunity to speak to mothers and daughters who had gathered for an afternoon tea. It was a super sweet occasion and not only fun for the little girls to drink from the fancy cups, but also for the moms and grandmothers, aunts, etc. to just enjoy a time away from the normal hectic Saturday afternoon activities.  As mothers, it’s important to take some time to step away because it’s so easy to stay stuck in the cycle of routine.

I enjoyed sharing with the ladies some of what the Lord had been teaching me as we made some comparisons between our spiritual lives and making a good cup of tea.  Perhaps the funniest part of the event was that I had brought one of my favorite mugs from home – “wake up and be awesome” and made sure it was good and dirty.

(referencing Matthew 23:25, 26 – Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.)

Curious where this headed?  click here and read the rest of the story 🙂

 

Also please be sure to get some extra free resources I have made available for you my readers.  Thank you for all of your support!

Coloring Pages – designed for your children with Mother’s Day in mind. Click here for the link to the pages, when you click the images they will give you the ability to download the free PDF file that you can print.

Bible Study on Joy – download your free study here Choose Joy!

We will be digging into this study in Facebook Live sessions at the Encouraging Women Today Facebook page each Monday at 4pm. Come join me here!

What’s in Your Cup – study on Christian Living – just click here for the download!